Defriending my Father

Dad and Me

You may think I got in a fight with my Dad, by that title.  Maybe you think I’m immature or thin-skinned  or just ridiculous for even considering “defriending” my Dad on the Facebook.  What kind of petty son does something like that?

But, you see, it’s none of the above.  I’ve actually never gotten into a fight with my Dad (and I never ever will.  Ever).  I don’t think he’s ever even hurt my feelings (and I can guarantee you that he never, ever ever will).  And the stupid Facebook came into existence so far into both our lives that even the idea of interacting on the Facebook is silly, besides.  And no, even if one of us did get mad, or hurt the feelings of the other, we’d never stoop so low (nor waste our time) “defriending” on the FB.

No, the reason I’m considering defriending is because my Dad is dead.  While today mark’s his birthday — which the Facebook so painfully reminded me of — he died on February 14th, 2014.   I have thought sometimes about why he even still has a presence on social media, especially on the FB.  I have tried hard to just be open minded about it — it’s a way of remembering him; it’s a good way to go back and see pictures and stuff; it’s a way for others to keep him in mind.  But I never went back to his FB page.  Except for today.

I think the reality actually is that we are so afraid of death and “disappearing” that we can’t bring ourselves to make a choice, of our own volition, to acknowledge that — though every moment is a miracle — nothing lasts forever and when we blink out, that is it.  Defriending is a vote in favor of this reprehensible plan that has us all living, struggling to be “happy”, making friends, becoming devoted — only to see it all torn away at various random painful moments and then asked to carry on until we, ourselves, are just torn away form this Earthly plane.

I think, though, that the best way of managing this charade is to do two things — first, let’s all just agree that everymomentisamiracle; and, second, take action which acknowledges that it all goes away — all.  You.  Me.  Sun.  Earth.  In other words, defriend the dead if the account cannot be deactivated — but by all means deactivate the account upon the person’s passing — or if absolutely necessary leave it up for one year at most during a classical grieving period.  But wear black that whole year, too, then.

Take care to remember those who have gone on.  But don’t linger in fear and inaction during this short time while the Earth still holds you in it’s capricious beautiful grasp.  Be not afraid of that nightfall that will consume each one of us.  For everymomentisamiracle, but only if your moments are not consumed by fear and delusion.

The Unwatched Leviathan

From an article in the Washington Post today about the Ferguson, MO police:  “A community where both policing and municipal court practices were found to disproportionately harm African American residents.”  And how many more of our police departments are like this?

I’m constantly torn between wanting to support the police and not being able to because they can’t seem to be trusted.  I have friends who are police.  I have thought about being a policeperson myself.  When I talk to individual policepeople I feel great empathy for them.  I feel respect for their work.  I validate the courage it takes to be out there among the craziest, the most violent, the most unpredictable, the reprehensible.

And then there are findings such as Eric Holder’s recently regarding Ferguson, MO in which he states ““Seen in this context, amid a highly toxic environment, defined by mistrust and resentment, stoked by years of bad feelings and spurred by illegal and misguided practices, it is not difficult to imagine how a single tragic incident set off the city of Ferguson like a powder keg,”

In other words, no shit the place exploded when regular humans are systematically and constantly treated like cockroaches in a city like Ferguson.  Of course people ignored the actual evidence — the evidence that exonerates the police officer who defended himself in the shooting — to make the point that the crime, the violence against African Americans has been and is happening ALL THE TIME in Ferguson, MO.

And how many more places?  I venture to guess a lot more.  Like maybe just about everywhere.  Because really, how do we know until something explodes in a community and the federal government starts looking under rocks?  We certainly do not have any systematic way to police our police.

And yet we should.  There is no way we should be able to feel comfortable in our society with a police force that is not policed for biased and harmful practices.

We may require a Leviathan, but we don’t have to let it smolder as a monster right beneath our eyes.

Accept the Invitation

Going out in the rain that night was not something I wanted to do.  Even before I went looking for my shoes (still wet from last night’s run), I could hear the wind trying to tear down the cedar trees out back.  Kodiak, my 25 pound cat, was hunkered down in my favorite chair and the two dogs had sought refuge in the den.  The rest of the mammals in my house, my wife and kids, had all gone to bed, too.  I couldn’t help but think that this was the loneliness of the long distance runner I once read about.

It would have been so easy to join the warm and slumbering bodies and gently fall asleep to the storm’s noises outside.  Noises softened by the warm walls holding the heat inside my house.  Why I didn’t do so, is a mystery, but then so is why we run at all.

As I stepped outside the house and drew my hat further down my face, the wind picked up in one huge gust and threw the door back at me.  “Really,” I thought, “the elements really are against me tonight.”…..Or were they?

MyBrynners running first steps into that cold dark run were not fun.  But as my body warmed to the task at hand, a brisk 4 miler, I began to reflect on my surroundings.  Sure, the wind and the rain and the cold and the dark could be considered enemies.  These most wintry of elements bring dread to even the most fanatical of us.

But that night, the elements gave me something else.  Something which has stuck with me longer than the bad weather and darkness ever will.  Those very things which conspired to turn me back to the hearth instead handed me an invitation to discover my own courage, which I gratefully accepted…

To this day, I believe accepting that invitation has made all the difference.